It was the summer of 2015. Our family of 5 drove our minivan from our home in Lafayette, LA to Gatlinburg, TN. We were vacationing with our extended family in the mountains. My kids were still very young at the time, 1, 3 and 6 years old.

The week was great. We stayed in a cabin overlooking the Smoky Mountains. We ate pancakes covered in giant dollops of butter, we rode chairlifts and the alpine slide at Uber Gatlinburg, we walked around the woods finding rocks and little streams. It was lovely.

We decided to bring the kids 'white water rafting,' however, with their ages it was more like a slow float down a cold river. On the drive to the launch we passed a small stand-alone building in the middle of nowhere with a sign outside that read 'Cosmic Dyes.' It caught my eye and I said out loud, "We have got to stop at that place on the way back!" I was so curious, what could an entire store of tie dye goods be like? I was so excited to check it out.

I've been a Phish Phan since college, love the band. I've gone on tour. My husband and I, along with our like-minded phriends make it a point to hit up a few shows every summer. And, If at all possible, sneak in another few. We've traveled the country.

My point being, tie dye wasn't new to me. You see it all over the music scene. People wearing it, vendors on Shakedown Street selling it. And I've always loved the colorful, happy vibe it evokes. I've got a long sleeved tie dye t-shirt that I bought trying to leave the first Bonnoroo in 2002. People were stuck in a traffic jam so bad, it took over 24 hours to exit the parking lot. Impromptu shakedowns started providing people with water, food, other goodies and, what else .....tie dye. The shirt awakens so many good memories in my heart. It brings me back to a carefree moment in time.

We finished rafting and before I knew it, I was walking through the doors of the place that forever changed my life. A soft, middle aged women with a loose, low ponytail of long peppered hair, kindly greeted us upon entry. She was wearing an old hippie skirt and urged us to look around. What I found, was essentially a room with racks and stacks of tie dyed thrift store clothes. I was in heaven! My 6 year old daughter was in heaven! The two of us rummaged through the racks and stacks of clothes looking for anything that would fit us and that we could bring home. So many treasures.

I stopped in my tracks when I uncovered a pair of tie dyed leggings. I thought, why are these hidden??? These should be on display AND are there more of them? I didn't hesitate to ask. She showed me the only other pair in the shop. Neither were my size, but I bought them both anyway along with a dozen other pieces. 

BUT THOSE LEGGINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was fixated. My vision was clear. I was going to make tie dye leggings and I was going to sell them at the next Phish show I went to.

Not surprisingly, the two owners were Deadheads. We happily made conversation about The Grateful Dead's 50th Anniversary and the upcoming Fare Thee Well shows. As a phan it was an honor to be able to share in their excitement. I found a silver Phish logo necklace and also bought a black and yellow Phish logo sticker that is still on my minivan today.

I left Cosmic Ties, satisfied, charged and inspired. Wow!

Upon returning home, I went straight to the mall, in and out every store, looking for white leggings to dye. Next, I marched over to Michael's and bought the best tie dye kit I could find. I came home and did it. From then on, I spent all my free time researching tie dye and experimenting.

Also, I should note, I did what I set out to do. I made a bunch of tie dye leggings and I brought them with me to Denver, CO for 3 nights of Phish. I sold them like wildfire in the camping lot and made enough money to jumpstart my business. So many aspects of my personal and career life opened up the doors for this to be a success.

I love having a creative outlet and take such pride in knowing that my artistic expression and entrepreneurship serves as an example for my young children. Follow your passion and create your own dream! I am truly grateful for the support that my husband, family and friends provide and love being able to call them clients as well.

Now I'm using professional grade dyes. I've designed my own leggings and have them made in the USA. My dining room is still my studio and my workspace is my kitchen, but one day it will be more. Stay tuned .........

Lauren aka Luda